After racing through the first four parts of the Cambridge English C1 Advanced Reading and Use of English paper, you’ve managed to save yourself some extra time. But you’re going to need it when it comes to those arduous readings in the second half of the exam.

Some people will be grateful for the slower pace of the longer readings, but others will find it difficult to change gears. Either way, we’re here to guide you through the rest of this paper and make sure you get the best mark possible.

Let’s start you off by walking through Reading and Use of English Part 5!


What’s in Reading and Use of English Part 5?


If you take a look at Reading and Use of English Part 5, you’ll see one continuous, long text. Normally this reads like a page from a book or an article. And it contains fictional or non-fictional topics such as a new theory or invention, a traveller’s expedition, the history of colour, and many others.

Here’s an extract from a Cambridge English C1 Advanced sample paper 1 (zip) on that very topic.

What’s in Reading and Use of English Part 5 | Passing C1 Advanced Part 5: Reading and Use of English | Oxford House Barcelona

The text is then followed by six questions, worth 2 marks each. Within each question there are four multiple-choice options (A-D). These are presented in the same order as the information in the text, which will make your life a little simpler when searching for the answers.

Some say it’s easier to gather marks on this section than some of the other readings. So make sure you give it your best shot.

Mutiple choice options in Reading and Use of English Part 5 |  Passing C1 Advanced Part 5: Reading and Use of English  | Oxford House Barcelona


What are they testing me on in Part 5?


As well as testing your reading comprehension, Part 5 also tests you on a range of other skills. These include reading for detail, opinion, attitude, tone, purpose, main idea, implication, text organisation and features (exemplification, comparison, reference).

It’s your job to read the text and choose which option for each question best fits accordingly. The key here is “best fits,” as sometimes it seems like more than one option is the answer (but more on that later).


How should I answer the questions?


It’s tempting to look at the questions straight away. But if you want to get the best results, avoid rushing through to the end. Instead, follow this easy step-by-step method. If you do, you’ll thank us later!

1. Read the title and subtitle first

This will give you the main theme of the text before you start reading and get you in the right headspace for the topic.

2. Skim read the text for gist

Don’t go near those questions yet! First quickly read the main text to get the general idea. And while you’re reading, pay attention to any content words such as nouns, place names, people or dates that give you broader information about the topic.

3. Now, look at question 1 (but not the options)

Why? Because only focusing on the question, allows you to identify what you think the answer is without any potential distractions.

4. Find the part of the text that relates to that question

Once you think you’ve found it – underline it. Now, read it back in relation to the question and think about how you’d say it in your own words.

5. Look at the multiple choice options (a,b,c & d)

Compare your own answer with the options given, and decide which one closely matches. Then eliminate the other options just to be sure.

6. Repeat steps 3-5 for the rest of the questions

Now’s time to do it all over again with questions 2 to 6. Make sure you underline all the evidence in the text – just like a detective would do. And once you’ve chosen all your answers, don’t forget to check them!

*Note, there’s normally one question in the middle that deals with the reader’s attitude or feelings. This often means looking at the whole paragraph and thinking about their tone of voice to get the answer.


Cambridge English tips and study resources


  • Time yourself: This is a timed exam. That means you only have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the whole Reading and Use of English section. We recommend spending about 30 minutes on the first four parts and the remaining hour on Parts 5-8. So that gives you approximately fifteen minutes to spend on Part 5.
  • Read for pleasure: This is so important. After all, reading is food for the soul! Not only will you become familiar with a wide range of vocabulary, it will also help get used to speed-reading. We suggest reading both nonfiction and fiction. Choose things you enjoy, whether that’s teen vampire fiction or romance novels. But also challenge yourself with something new. Check out our book recommendations for learning English.
  • Be careful of traps: Yes, Cambridge English exams love luring you into a trap whenever they can. If the answer seems too obvious to be true, it probably is. Be careful of words that are mentioned in both the text and the question, and instead try to look for any synonyms or paraphrasing.
  • Practise! There are lots of resources out there for you to improve your mark in Reading and Use of English Part 5. Cambridge English has two sample papers on their website. Also try out these websites with free activities for practising all parts of the C1 Advanced exam.


Related articles

Can’t get enough of our exam tips? You might be interested in these other articles:


Last but not least, why not sign up to one of our Cambridge preparation courses? We’ll give you the knowledge and the skills to successfully prepare for the exam.

Glossary for Language Learners


Find the following words in the article and then write down any new ones you didn’t know.

Racing (v): move or progress at full speed.

Arduous (adj): difficult and tiring.

Change gears (v): to move from one level of activity to another.

Give it your best shot (exp): to try your best.

Rush through (pv): to do something quickly without little thought.

Headspace (n): a person’s state of mind or mindset.

Speed-reading (n): the ability to read quickly.

lure (v): to tempt someone into doing something.


v = verb

adj = adjective

exp = expression

pv = phrasal verb

n = noun

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